I owe my readers an apology for my lack of postings. If it is any consolation, one of the reasons I’ve been busy is due to critiquing your resumes and having career counseling sessions. Now you know I haven’t fully abandoned my job seekers!
Last year I wrote Fasting While @ Work to help both sides through the Islamic fasting month. With Ramadan just around the corner, I’ve decided to rewrite this piece to include more information and resources.
The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan begins on Wednesday, August 11th. For working Muslims, fasting while at work isn’t the easiest of things to do; especially when you feel like the only one fasting during the month. If you’re a working student, it can be much more difficult. Trust me when I say, “I know the feeling”! When I was a junior in high school, I used to be in class all day before going to my night job and breaking my fast just an hour or two before going home to my moms’ home cooking. All through my time in college and grad school, I’d break my fast during my evening courses while some classmates look at me in amazement at the fact that I’m eating.
With that, I think a few pointers for my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters observing Ramadan this year as they work or go to school is just as appropriate as it is necessary.
Being from San Francisco, I must say that we are blessed with the number of mosques in or near the downtown area, including the financial district. Muslim employees should try during their lunch hour to go to a mosque near by. As this is the month to celebrate the scriptures of the Holy Quran being brought down to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh), what better way to pass that hour then by being in a place where others are worshiping and reciting the scriptures, right? Not sure if there is a mosque near your place of work? You should be able to find one through IslamicFinder.
If you’re a high school student, only go to a nearby mosque if your campus is an “open campus”. The Career Club does not condone cutting class or sneaking off campus!
If there isn’t a mosque near by, there is always a quiet space where you can be to worship and read the Holy Quran. I’ve worked in many parts of the Bay Area where there wasn’t always a mosque near by. I ended up discovering a quiet small garden I could sit in or an empty conference room I had to myself during that time. Many businesses and organizations are highly respectful of one’s beliefs and practices as long as it does not interrupt their productivity. Do not expect for them to assume your needs, so make the request for space during your break in a professional manner.
For university students, there should be an MSA (Muslim Student Association) at your school where there is a designated space for meetings and worship. If not, please check where you can go, such as the library (where there is almost always secluded spaces for projects) or an empty classroom. For high school students, an MSA should have a similar situation at your campus. Otherwise try to find a quiet space on campus. When I was in high school, we had a few professors that kept their classroom open as well as the library being open during lunch.
As Muslims, we believe that the most beloved scent to God (swt) is the scent of one’s fasting breath. However, that isn’t going to be the same amongst many mortals, Muslim or not. Nothing to be offended about as it is a natural occurrence of halitosis or bad breath when one doesn’t consume food or beverage for a while. What can you do about it? Simple things such as making sure you have good distance between yourself and others. Always brush your teeth, even if it’s rinsing with water. If you have a “miswak“, even better! Click here to read some good tips on things to do during Suhur (pre dawn meal) to assure that your breath stays decent throughout the day.
If you know someone is fasting, don’t start eating and drinking in front of them. Be as courteous as you would want others to be if you too were fasting. If you want to know what it is like to be fasting, fast with a fellow colleague then go with them to break your fast. It’s an amazing learning experience according to my many colleagues that have done the same with me. Plan to either fast the whole month of even try it for a few days, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Also, as many of you may or may not know, Muslims do a physical prayer that does not allow for interuptions. This means that Muslims do not speak to others during their prayers. So if you walk in on someone praying, be respectful by being silent or even stepping out. Prayers shouldn’t last more then 5 minutes.
I always tell people that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Ask your Muslim colleagues and classmates about Ramadan while being courteous. There are several resources online to learn about Ramadan, including IslamicFinder.org, IslamiCity.com, Islamic Society of Northern America and Islamic Center of America.